How To Make Welsh Cakes (Bakestones)
Welsh Cake Recipes: A Little Taste Of Wales - Just Like Mam Used To Make!
Coming from a mining family who lived and worked in the Rhondda Valley in South Wales, Welsh Cakes are one of the most delicious memories of my childhood. How to describe Welsh Cakes to someone who has never tasted one? Well, they're a bit like a cross between a fruit scone and a pancake...but flatter and more moist than a scone and tastier than a pancake!
The smell of freshly baked Welsh Cakes (or "bakestones" as they are often referred to in my family!) is wonderful and the taste is just..well, if you've never had a Welsh Cake, I suggest that you put eating one on your list of "Things To Do Before You Die" :)
Welsh Cakes can be served hot or cold, dusted with sugar and can either be eaten plain or split and covered with jam or butter (or both) or drizzled with honey.
Welsh Cakes are extremely easy to make, will keep fresh if stored in an airtight container for a week or so and are DELICIOUS....even Ann Romney, wife of Mitt Romney the Republican nominee in the 2012 U.S. presidential election is apparently a fan. Mrs Romney's father came from the Welsh valleys (from a family of coal miners - just like mine!) and she gave out home cooked Welsh Cakes on her husband's campaign bus!!
Read on to find out everything you ever wanted to know about Welsh Cakes - how to make Welsh Cakes, Welsh Cake ingredients and Welsh Cake recipes!
In Wales, Welsh Cakes are known by different names depending on the area, including: Picau Ar Y Maen (bakestone cakes), Pice Bach (little cakes), Teisen Radell (griddle cakes) or Cacen Gri (currant rounds)
"Ar y maen" means "on the stone" and refers to the method of cooking which was traditionally an iron griddle (bakestone) suspended over an open fire on which the cakes were placed to cook
Welsh Cakes and me...it's a love thing!
To explain my life-long love affair with Welsh Cakes, I'll start with a bit of family history to set the scene!
My mother's family come from Pontypridd, a town in the Rhondda Valley in South Wales (affectionately referred to by the shortened form "Ponty"!)
My family were coal miners and my mother's father and older brothers all worked in the Albion Colliery in Cilfynydd, a village near Pontypridd. My grandfather was seriously injured in a coal mining accident and eventually died as a result.
When another mining accident injured one of my uncles, my grandmother vowed that the mines would not claim any more victims from amongst her family and almost overnight she moved her family lock, stock and barrel virtually as far away as she could travel.
The only means of travel available to her was the railway and she got as far away as she could. Not feeling she could cope with a big city after life in the Welsh Valleys, she got off the train at the furthest point away from Wales before the railway entered London - the town of Slough in Berkshire about 20 miles west of London.
Slough is an industrial town and there were plenty of (safer) jobs there for her older children and best of all, many other Welsh people who had moved for economic reasons.
So it was that I was brought up many years later amongst a community of "Welsh ex-patriots" who kept their roots and traditions very much alive...and that included the cooking, of which making Welsh Cakes was a regular part.
My mother's electric cooker was specifically chosen because instead of the usual four rings on the hob, it had a rectangular griddle - perfect for Welsh Cakes (or "bakestones" as they were known in my family). My aunts all had cast iron bakestones, either inherited, sent or brought back from Wales on visits "home". Wales WAS still their home...in their hearts, if not physically.
Just seeing a Welsh Cake now brings back so many memories of people and times long since gone.
I eventually married a Welsh man (we've since got divorced but are still great friends!) who is as much of a Welsh Cake fan as I am :)
I think also that for anyone with Welsh origins, Welsh Cakes are a symbol of Wales, every bit as much as the Welsh flag, Y Ddraig Goch (the Red Dragon), daffodils or leeks!
Go on...try some! There's full instructions and video tutorials on how to make Welsh Cakes below, but if you don't want to make some yourself, buy some and give your tastebuds a treat!!!!
Welsh Cakes - Celtic Comfort Food...read on and enjoy...and I hope you're inspired to try some Welsh Cakes yourself!
Have you ever eaten a Welsh Cake?
"Bakestones" - Another Name For Welsh Cakes
Welsh Cakes are often called "bakestones" - especially in South Wales. They're also known (especially by ex-pat Welsh people) as "miner's cakes"!
Traditional Bakestone or Planc / Gradell
In Wales, bakestones are also known as "Plancs" (sometimes spelled in the English way as "Plank") or "Gradells" and this cast iron baking stone is perfect for cooking Welsh Cakes in the traditional fashion!
The cast iron surface ensures your cakes will cook to a beautiful golden brown finish quickly and evenly.
Bakestones were originally designed to be suspended over an open fire, but this modern version of a traditional bakestone can be used flat on electric or gas hobs and range cookers.
As well as Welsh Cakes you can bake many other kinds of food on a bakestone including bread, scones, pizza, pancakes and biscuits as well as flatbreads, naan bread, chapatis etc!
If you don't have a "proper" bakestone, you can still make Welsh Cakes! Just use a heavy bottomed griddle, skillet or frying pan instead!
My Mam's Welsh Cakes Recipe!
Ingredients for Welsh Cakes
- 8 oz (225g) self-raising flour
- 1 teaspoon salt (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon mixed spice (optional)
- 4 oz (110g) butter or margarine
- 3 oz (75g) caster sugar
- 3 oz (75g) dried fruit - currants
- raisins or sultanas (or a mixture)
- 1 medium egg
- A little milk
- Oil or fat to grease the bakestone (griddle) or pan
- Caster sugar for sprinkling over the Welsh Cakes after they are cooked
British Weights And Measures!
If you're not familiar with British weights and measures, here's how to convert them:
- Sieve flour into a large mixing bowl.
- Rub in butter/margarine until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs.
- Stir in the caster sugar, dried fruit, mixed spice and salt (if used).
- In a separate bowl or jug, beat the egg lightly.
- Stir the beaten egg into the flour mixture to form a soft dough. Gradually add milk a little at a time if the mixture is too dry.
- Using a rolling pin, roll the mixture out on to a floured board to a thickness of about 1/4 inch (5mm).
- Cut into rounds about 2.5 - 3 inches (6-7cm) diameter using a fluted pastry/biscuit cutter
- Lightly grease the bakestone (or you can use a flat griddle, pan or skillet with a heavy base if you don't have a bakestone) and allow to heat up gently for a few minutes.
- Using a fish slice or pallet knife, carefully place the Welsh Cakes one at at time onto the hot cooking surface.
- Cook the Welsh Cakes for about 3 minutes each side, or until they are golden brown.
- Remove from the pan or griddle using a pallet knife or fish slice, place on a cooling rack and sprinkle with sugar while the cakes are still hot.
- Serve hot or cold. Welsh Cakes can be eaten plain or split and spread with jam/butter/honey etc.
Rate this recipe!
How To Make Welsh Cakes
Welsh ladies showing how it's done on video!
Video: Margaret John Makes Welsh Cakes For St David's Day
The late actress Margaret John ("Doris" from the TV comedy series "Gavin & Stacey") talks about her childhood and demonstrates how to make Welsh Cakes!
Video: Grandma Betty's Recipe For Welsh Cakes
90 year old Betty demonstrates how to make Welsh Cakes - she's an expert, having made over 200,000 of them over the years!
Do YOU Love Welsh Cakes?
If you've ever had a Welsh Cake tell us how good you think they are!
Do you like Welsh Cakes?
More Welsh Cake Recipes
Traditional Welsh Cake recipes
Welsh cakes are a traditional "handed down" recipe, but there are lots of variations on the basic theme!
Here's some links to more delicious Welsh Cake recipes:
- BBC Good Food - Welsh cakes
Pice ar y maen, a Welsh teatime treat passed on through generations and still as popular as ever. Perfect for making with the children
- Welsh Cakes (Picau ar y maen) - Recipes by Tallyrand
WELSH CAKES (Picau ar y maen)
- all recipes - Classic Welsh Cakes
We attended a fayre in Wales and the ladies of the local church were baking and selling these traditional cakes. We asked for the recipe and they graciously shared it with us
- A recipe for Welsh Cakes for your kids to cook. Delicious, tasty and easy to cook.
These cakes take only ten minutes to bake and the kids can do most of the preparation. They make tasty bite sized snacks that all the family will love.
Fancy trying some more traditional Welsh recipes?
Welsh Heritage Food and Cooking contains more than 75 recipes for traditional Welsh dishes in an easy to follow format, beautifully illustrated with full colour photographs.
© 2009 LouiseKirkpatrick